December 14, 2012

Celiac Disease

Celiac disease, also known as celiac sprue, non-tropical sprue, and gluten-sensitive enteropathy, is a condition in which consuming gluten — a protein found in wheat, rye, barley, and some other grains — leads, in susceptible people, to damage to the lining of the small intestine, resulting in the inability to properly absorb nutrients into the body. This can lead to many different symptoms, including fatigue, malaise (feeling generally poorly), bloating, and diarrhea.

Left untreated or insufficiently treated, celiac disease can lead to damage to other organs. If properly treated, celiac disease typically leads to absolutely nothing! In your travels, you may see the word celiac spelled as coeliac. Both terms refer to the same condition. Celiac is the spelling far more commonly used in North America. Incidentally, the term celiac (or coeliac) comes from the Greek word Koila, which refers to the abdomen.

Doctors have known about celiac disease for a long time. Articles describing individuals suffering from diarrhea (most likely due to what we now call celiac disease) first appeared over two thousand years ago. It was, however, Dr. Samuel Gee who, in London, England in 1887, first described the condition in detail and even presciently observed that successful therapy was to be found in changing a patient’s diet.

 Living and Thriving with Celiac Disease

Although people living with celiac disease share many similar challenges, differences exist for some people based on age, living condition (home or in a college dorm for instance), and special circumstances such as attempting to conceive, or being pregnant.

Perhaps it’s been some time since you were diagnosed with celiac disease and you are nicely on track with your gluten-free existence. What then? Do you need to be monitored for celiac disease-related health issues? If so, how should the monitoring be done? Better ways of managing celiac disease may emerge in the future. Indeed, there may come a time when you may not need to follow a gluten-free diet. There are and other possible options for dealing with celiac disease that may come about someday.


Medical problems come in all shapes and sizes. Some are easy to recognize, simple or harmless, whereas others may not be so obvious, are complex, or even dangerous. Telling the difference between them can be quite tricky, and making a formal medical diagnosis is best left to the professionals.

Whenever you develop a health problem, you automatically make a diagnosis yourself – whether you know it or not. If you develop a headache, for example, you may decide to ignore it for a few days and see what happens, or take some simple painkillers to relieve your symptoms. But what if the headache gets worse, or if it’s very severe? When – and how – can you tell whether you should seek medical advice? This section aims to help you make these types of decisions by thinking like a medic – so that you can approach a variety of common or potentially serious problems appropriately.

COPD - a status report

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, or COPD, is the fourth leading cause of death in the United States and the second leading cause of disability. The costs associated with COPD are enormous — more than $37 billion a year, including $20 billion a year just in direct healthcare costs. Some 12 million American adults have been diagnosed with COPD, and another 12 million may have it but don’t know it.

How can there be so many undiagnosed cases of a life-threatening illness? For the same reason that many diabetics and people with high blood pressure go undiagnosed: The symptoms, especially early on, are so vague that they’re easy to ignore. And when COPD symptoms do appear, they can be mistaken for other conditions, like asthma.

In fact, until fairly recently, most people outside the health profession had never heard of COPD, and those who had heard of it very often dismissed it as a “smoker’s disease.” Smoking is the number-one risk factor for COPD, but it is by no means the only one. Long-term exposure to dust, chemical fumes, secondhand smoke, and other pollutants can lead to COPD, and there’s even a genetic condition that, though rare, can cause the disease.COPD also was long considered a man’s disease. But since 2003, more women than men have died every year from COPD. Many experts attribute this shift to the fact that, while smoking rates among men have dropped over the past two or three decades, the smoking rates for women have crept upward.

Women also seem to suffer more than men from many of the health-sapping effects of COPD, so it tends to progress faster in women than it does in men. That’s the insidious thing about COPD: It’s a progressive disease. New treatments and better understanding have improved management of its symptoms, but there is no cure, and the average life expectancy after diagnosis is about five years, depending on the severity of the COPD and other health factors.

Faced with these sobering facts, many people feel overwhelmed, even discouraged or depressed, when they first learn they have COPD. But you aren’t completely powerless. There are all kinds of steps you can take to manage your COPD symptoms and improve your quality of life. The first step is understanding COPD and how it affects your body.

December 13, 2012


Hunting homocysteine

Amino acids are the building blocks of protein. Most amino acids are friendly to your body, but homocysteine is a potentially hostile amino acid released when you digest protein foods. Researchers have conducted about a dozen important homocysteine studies in recent years, and most of the studies have demonstrated a clear link between high homocysteine levels (called hyperhomocysteinemia) and an increased risk of heart attack. The reasons for this connection are still a mystery. The current theory is that homocysteine may chew up cells in the lining of your blood vessels, trigger blood clots, or produce debris that blocks the arteries.

The American Heart Association (AHA) hasn’t yet labeled hyperhomocysteinemia a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease. But the AHA does recommend that people who have at least one other known risk factor for heart disease, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, smoking, obesity, or a family history of heart disease, attempt to lower their homocysteine level.

How do you lower homocysteine? No problem. The good news is that consuming adequate amounts of the B vitamins — folic acid (also known as folacin or folates), vitamin B6 (also known as pyridoxal, pyridoxine, and pyridoxamine), and vitamin B12 — efficiently lowers the amount of homocysteine in your blood.

If you’re at high risk, check with your doctor to see how you can include foods high in B vitamins in your diet. Table 2-1 lists the homocysteine fighters and some of the foods you can find them in. It hasn’t been shown, however, that lowering homocysteine levels in the blood reduces the incidence of heart disease.

TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine)

A Brief History of TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine)

Traditional Chinese Medicine is thought to have started over 2,500 years ago. Its history is blended with myth and legend. TCM is said to have originated from two legendary emperors who were medical pioneers and keen to live long and healthy lives.

Early Chinese people are believed to have used herbs as medicines and to have warmed stones as a form of heat treatment. Inscriptions on tortoise shells over a thousand years old give evidence of the use of water and simple herbal remedies for healing. Over time (in the Zhou dynasties from 1100–256 BC), medicine developed into an organized system and absorbed influences from the philosophical and religious traditions of Confucianism and Daoism. This led to the development of the concepts of yin and yang and the five elements or phases. The system of diagnosing by means of the tongue and pulse and observing other body signs was also created.

Over many centuries great Chinese medical texts were compiled and acupuncture (needle treatment), moxibustion (heat treatment with a warming herb), and herbal medicine became widespread.

The arrival of Christian missionaries in China in the 19th and early 20th centuries led to the introduction of Western medical ideas and a downsurge of interest in TCM. However TCM was revived by Chairman Mao as part of his Revolution and it now flourishes alongside Western medicine in modern day China.

CFS [Chronic Fatigue Syndrome]

What is CFS, anyway?

First and foremost, in order to be classified as having CFS [Chronic Fatigue Syndrome], you need to have fatigue for at least six months. This fatigue can’t be explained or has been a lifelong condition, and most importantly, plenty of rest doesn’t take it away.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), you have to have at least four of the following symptoms in addition to the long-term fatigue to be diagnosed with CFS:

·   Headache of a different type or length than the headaches you’ve gotten in the past - a headache like you’ve never had before
·         Aching muscles
·         Painful joints
·       An increase in symptoms before exercise; exercise makes them worse.
·         Sore throat that comes and goes
·         Swollen lymph nodes in neck, and underarms
·         Short-term memory and concentration problems
·         Unrefreshing sleep

Cholesterol - the good side

Cholesterol helps your body develop

Cholesterol begins to influence your body even before you’re born. According to a 1996 report in the journal Science, cholesterol enhances an embryo’s healthy development by triggering the activity of the specific genesthat instruct embryonic cells to become specialized body structures — arms, legs, spine, and so on. Sadly, as Science reported, approximately one in every 9,000 babies is born with a birth defect linked to the fetus’s failure to make the cholesterol it needs.

In 2003, researchers at the U.S. National Human Genome Research Institute linked a pregnant woman’s cholesterol deficiency to a defect in the fetal brain called HPE (the failure of the brain to divide normally into two halves). Ninety-nine percent of embryos with HPE are spontaneously aborted; those born live experience severe mental retardation, are unable to walk or talk, and usually die within the first year of life. To prevent these problems, pregnant women are often advised not to take cholesterol-lowering drugs.

Cholesterol holds your cells together

Think back to your first chemistry or physics class. Never took chemistry or physics? Well, then imagine being in class where one of the first things your teacher wants you to know is that there’s no such thing as a solid substance.

Things that look solid — this book, that lamp, you, and me — are actually gazillions of individual atoms, molecules, and cells whirling around in space, held together only by an exchange of electrical charges. If you can’t remember much chemistry or physics, check out the “Recognizing the difference between an atom, a molecule, and a body cell” sidebar in this chapter. Mark your place, read the sidebar, and then come right back.

Some things that look solid aren’t solid. They’re simply groups of cells held together by electrical charges that keep the cells in place so that a piece of this page or a piece of your finger doesn’t go spinning off into space. Individual cells stay intact because they have a cell membrane, an outer skin that serves as neat and tidy packaging for the cell.

One requirement for healthy cell membranes is — drumroll please — cholesterol. A whopping 90 percent of all the cholesterol in your body is in your cell membranes. The cholesterol protects the integrity of the cell membrane, helping to keep it flexible and strong.

If you were to diet so stringently or use so many cholesterol-lowering drugs that your cholesterol level fell to zero (an impossibility by the way), your cell membranes would be very dry and easily torn. The stuff inside the cells would leak out, and cells would die all over the place. That would sort of put an end to the whole darn shootin’ match. Every healthy body cell needs some cholesterol, and so does every healthy brain.

December 12, 2012

What Is Chronic Pain?

Medical professionals categorize pain as either acute or chronic. Acute pain is your nervous system’s way of alerting you to an injury or other damage to your body’s tissues. Acute pain gets your attention so that you’ll take care of yourself fast. In fact, the word acute comes from the Latin word for needle, and if you’ve ever stepped on a needle, you’ll agree that it’s a good representation of acute pain. Acute pain usually goes away as the injury heals, although it may return for short periods.

Chronic pain is persistent pain. The word chronic comes from the Greek word for time. In medical terms, pain is chronic when it lasts three months or more when pain becomes chronic, your body’s pain signals keep firing for weeks, months, or years, even though the damage that set them off may have long since healed. The pain may have been caused by an injury, and, for unknown reasons, your body never turned off its pain switch. Or the pain may have an ongoing cause, such as arthritis, cancer, or nerve damage. You also may have multiple causes of chronic pain, which is particularly common for older adults.

One big difference between acute and chronic pain is when you have acute pain, you usually know why it hurts. (Some examples of acute pain are broken bones, kidney stones, and childbirth.) When you have chronic pain, you may have no idea what’s causing the hurting. The bone has healed, the stone has passed, and the baby is now walking and talking, but you still have lingering problems in the areas where the acute pain occurred.

In addition, many people with chronic pain aren’t even aware that an injury ever occurred in the first place. (And, indeed, maybe there was no injury to begin with!) For them, the pain appears to slam in from out of the blue, like a sudden tornado that levels a house. Whether you know the source, chronic pain is a sensation without purpose. It has no biological function, and its usefulness as a warning system has long since passed or never existed. Ironically, while chronic pain has no purpose, it’s still often difficult to treat. The medical term for this type of pain is treatment resistant pain. Experts describe chronic pain this way: It persists, resists, and insists: It persists beyond the expected healing time, resists interventions (treatments), and it also insists upon being recognized.

Watch that ''sweetness''...

Selecting good sugar

For baking and to scatter over bitter food and drinks choose dark sugars: brown sugar contains molasses, a good source of iron, and is so flavorful a little goes a long way when stirred into deserts, oatmeal, and drinks. By adding the sugar yourself, you can monitor how much you are taking on board. Buy organic and fair-trade if desired. Honey is a sweetener and an antioxidant with fantastic health-giving properties, used in hospitals for wound healing. Studies suggest it may help prevent heart disease and offer anticavity protection for teeth.

Avoid artificial sweeteners

Many popular artificial sweeteners contain ingredients that may be harmful to your health. Check for aspartame (E951), which produces the toxin methanol, which the body can process only in small amounts, and has been associated with headaches and menstrual problems. Saccharin (E954) has been linked with bladder cancer. Acesulfame K (E950) has also been linked with cancer, while sorbitol (E420) and mannitol (E421) are associated with bloating.

Discovering hidden sugar

It’s difficult to keep to the World Health Organization’s recommended daily limit for sugar (no more than 10 percent of your daily food intake) when it appears in so many forms in packaged, processed foods. If any of the following come near the top of an ingredients list or the product contains more than one in addition to sugar, leave that breakfast cereal, ketchup, or diet food on the shelf:

• dextrose
• glucose
• corn syrup
• sucrose
• fructose
• HFCS (high fructose corn syrup)

Be Fit

Eating food in as close to its natural state as possible helps ensure maximum exposure to youth-enhancing nutrients, many of which are lost during storage, processing, and cooking. It also reduces your exposure to artificial additives used to enhance the flavor, texture, color, and shelf-life of processed foods, from pre-prepared meals to diet dishes.

Five a day

Keep looking and feeling young and help ward off diseases of aging, from Alzheimer’s to stroke and heart disease, by eating more fruit and vegetables. They are rich in antioxidants, and the biologically active ingredients of plant pigments and flavorings have anti-aging properties, too. Aim to eat a minimum of five portions of fruit and vegetables daily—and up to nine if you can.

Fitting in fruit

To boost the number of fruit servings you eat each day, slice fresh fruit or spoon soaked dried fruit onto morning muesli. Snack on grapes, dried fruit and berries, and eat an apple or banana midmorning or afternoon. Follow meals with a fruit salad, baked or poached fruit, or treat yourself to pieces of fruit dipped in fine dark melted chocolate.

Color combos

A rainbow of colors on the plate ensures you are getting a good intake of plant chemicals. Naturally deep green, yellow, and red foods contain antioxidant carotenoids that boost immunity and offer protection against heart disease, cancer, DNA damage, and age-related sight problems. Include peppers, broccoli, spinach, sweet potatoes, carrots, and pumpkin in your diet, plus extra virgin olive oil to aid absorption.

Fresh is best

Choose ripe, seasonal fruit and vegetables and grains in their whole form to ensure maximum flavour while retaining vitamins and minerals, antioxidant compounds, and other plant nutrients that are destroyed by processing.

Grow your own

The best way to ensure the freshest, most flavorful organic fruit and vegetables is to grow them yourself. Even a city balcony can provide a good supply of tomatoes, salad leaves, herbs, and soft fruit.

Where cholesterol comes from

Yes, you get some cholesterol from food, but the curious fact is that most of the cholesterol in your blood and body tissues is produced right in your very own liver. Your liver uses the proteins, fats, and carbohydrates in food to manufacture and churn out about 1 gram (1,000 milligrams) of cholesterol a day.

How cholesterol travels around your body

Whether your cholesterol comes from food or your liver, it travels through your bloodstream in particles called lipoproteins, a name derived from lipos (the Greek word for “fat”) and protos (Greek for “first” or “most important”).The fatty substances in lipoproteins include cholesterol and triglycerides, the most common fatty substance in the human body (more about triglycerides in the section “Focusing on Other Blood Baddies”). The proteins that combine with fats to produce lipoproteins are called apolipoproteins, often abbreviated as apo.

Lipoproteins develop through five distinct phases as they mature into the particles that carry cholesterol around your body:

·         Phase 1: Chylomicrons
·         Phase 2: Very low-density lipoproteins (VLDLs)
·         Phase 3: Intermediate-density lipoproteins (IDLs)
·         Phase 4: Low-density lipoproteins (LDLs)
·         Phase 5: High-density lipoproteins (HDLs)

December 10, 2012

Believe It or Not, You Need Cholesterol

Your healthy body needs cholesterol, but I haven’t told you the reasons why. Let me list them now:

·  Cholesterol directs the development of some cells in the growing fetus.
· Cholesterol is part of the membrane that surrounds and protects each cell in your body.
· Cholesterol comprises a major portion of your brain, which is composed of mostly fatty tissue.
· Cholesterol contributes to the construction of synapses, structures through which nerve cells transmit messages.
· Cholesterol is a building block for hormones, including the male sex hormone testosterone and the vital adrenal hormone cortisone.
·  Cholesterol is an ingredient in digestive juices, such as bile.
· Cholesterol is used as a building block for vitamin D, which is made when sunlight hits the fatty tissue just under your skin.
·  And, oh yes, cholesterol is part of body fat.

The Many Faces of Bulimia

As with just about any illness or disorder, bulimia has no simple black-and white definition. It’s a complicated disorder with various faces. To help you get familiar with the disorder and possibly start down the road to diagnosis, the following sections present both real-life situations and psychiatric definitions that deal with the disorder. Bulimia is a treacherous disorder that takes its toll on the body and the spirit of sufferers. With chronic purging behavior, the risks you take include the following:

·         Damage to your heart or heart functioning
·         Liver failure
·         Kidney failure
·         Damage to your esophagus
·  Damage to the functioning of your gastrointestinal system (for example, bloating, constipation, diarrhea)
·         Damage to your tooth enamel

Beyond the physical consequences of bulimia are its damaging emotional effects. Your attempts to calm and soothe yourself with food have turned into the monster of out-of-control bingeing. The more you try to bring your bingeing (and, thus, your weight) under control with purging, the more the binges seem to occur. These behaviors serve to exaggerate the already-heavy burden of shame you carry around about yourself and lower your self-esteem even further.

Cholesterol - what does it do?

Cholesterol revs up your nerve cells

The fact that you have cholesterol in your brain tissue isn’t a new discovery, but the knowledge of what the cholesterol actually does up there is new. In November 2001, a group of French and German researchers at the Max-Delbruck Center for Molecular Medicine in Berlin reported something extraordinary, so extraordinary that the lead researcher told fellow scientists at a meeting of the Society for Neuroscience, “We were definitely shocked.”

Before getting to the shocking part, take a timeout for a short but important lesson in neurology. About 90 percent of the cells in your brain are non-nerve cells called glial cells. Glial cells aren’t the cells through which brain cells communicate, so they have always seemed sort of blah.

Now comes the shocking part. The guys at Max-Delbruck discovered that glial cells contain cholesterol, which enables them to secrete a molecule that encourages the formation of synapses, teensy junctions in the brain where messages are exchanged among nerve cells. The molecule secreted by the glial cell is called apolipoprotein E (apoE). When the Berlin researchers added plain cholesterol to nerve cells in a laboratory dish, the nerve cells began to form synapses like crazy.

So should you start stuffing yourself with cholesterol-rich foods to jump-start your brain? In a word, no. Your glial cells make all the cholesterol your brain requires. The point of this section is just to let you know what cholesterol is doing up there in your head.

Anorexia’s Psychological Traits

Your psychological world as a person with anorexia is a fiercely controlled mini-universe that has come to feel absolutely essential to your psychological survival. As a vulnerable person you arrive at anorexia’s door feeling completely inadequate. You don’t know who you are or how you are supposed to take on the challenges that lie ahead in life. Anorexia offers a retreat from that forbidding world. But at the same time you believe your control and discipline will command the world’s admiration.

As anorexia progresses, you, the person with the disorder, become more and more obsessed with food and dieting. This obsession is part of creating that controlled mini-universe, a place you can always lose yourself in when real life challenges seem overwhelming. In the mini-universe, the terms of success are pretty much under your control, if you can just keep managing your hunger.

Anorexia and its symptoms

Anorexia is a severe emotional disorder that impacts your mind and damages your body through starvation. The hallmarks of anorexia are a fear of fatness and a refusal to eat. If you have anorexia, you’ve developed a fear of becoming fat that organizes your entire existence. You believe you’re always on the verge of becoming fat, regardless of your actual weight or what anybody tells you about how thin you are. You take steps to manage your fear of fatness by refusing to eat. Food refusal also allows you to feel in control, which is of central importance to your sense of well-being. You may also binge and purge and may exercise compulsively to help control your weight.

Anorexia takes its toll on both your brain and your body. The physical symptoms of anorexia are due to starvation. These symptoms include:

·         Heart muscle damage
·         Heartbeat irregularities
·         Low blood pressure
·         Kidney damage or failure
·         Convulsions, seizures
·         Liver damage or failure
·         Loss of menstrual periods
·         Loss of bone density
·         Fertility problems

Stroke facts - II

Let me hit you with the bad news first: Stroke kills, stroke destroys, stroke debilitates. Stroke is the third most common cause of death in the United States, and the number-one cause of serious disability. One year after the most common kind of stroke, approximately 30 percent of those afflicted will have died, and another 30 percent will have a moderate to severe disability.

Now for some good news: Of those who experience the most common type of stroke, approximately 40 percent are left with only a mild or no disability one year later. And each year more people survive and recover from stroke as medical research continues to advance effective treatment. Today, recovery with improvement is the rule rather than the exception.

Stroke is sometimes called a brain attack. I wish this label would catch on, because I think that people might then understand that stroke is an emergency — like a heart attack — and call 911 right away! A heart attack threatens your heart; a stroke threatens your brain. In truth, most stroke is like a heart attack: It’s a problem with blood vessels, and time is really important.

However, heart attack is a little easier to recognize. First of all, the pain tells you something is wrong — and it is usually near your heart. Most strokes are painless, and the symptoms, a paralyzed arm or leg for instance, are not obviously related to the brain.

Clearly, the more you know about stroke — its symptoms, causes, risks, treatment, and prevention — the better your chances of living a full and productive life with or, better yet, without stroke. And the first lesson is to learn what stroke is and how and why stroke occurs.

Anorexia Nervosa

Like the phantom in The Phantom of the Opera, anorexia nervosa has two domains: what’s outside for everyone to see and what’s inside, hidden not only from others but often even from the sufferer herself.

The visible behaviors and outcomes of anorexia are often shocking, except to people with the disorder. You can easily get lost in the focus on what’s visible on the outside. But as you discover in this chapter, these behaviors are driven by an invisible engine of internal distress — and an astonishing level of determination to overcome that distress through thinness.

If you have anorexia, you may feel that you’re solving what’s distressing in your life with your thinness and ability to control what you eat. Consider that, in fact, the genius of your anorexia is that it takes all that internal distress and turns it into one simple external issue: the daily challenge of avoiding fat and staying thin. Anorexia gives you a feeling of control when you otherwise feel helpless in life, and it makes you feel worthwhile when you so often doubt your worth.

Stroke - facts

Stroke is nothing if not fast. Each year, as many as 750,000 people in the United States suffer a sudden and unexpected attack of the brain. When part of the brain is deprived of oxygen — which is what is happening when stroke hits — it doesn’t take long for the catastrophe to make itself evident. A minute or less.

Whether it’s a sudden inability to speak, the crash of a dish from a hand that can no longer grasp, or loss of consciousness, a brain attack strikes its victims quickly and powerfully and without warning. Or does it? Although your stroke may occur in a lightning flash, it has most likely been years in the making, with conditions such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity, and diabetes possibly serving as warning signs that the brain is in danger. Basically, as these conditions cause wear and tear on your blood vessels, your risks increase of suffering either a blockage or rupture of a brain artery. And — suddenly — you’re in stroke mode.

So how does it happen? It starts with the brain.

The immune system

The immune system: Your body’s frontline defender

The immune system — which is a complex network of glands, tissues, and circulating cells — is your body’s frontline defense in the fight against infection by viruses, bacteria, and other bad guys. When confronted with an infection, the immune system gears up to neutralize the foreign invader and make you healthy again.

In order for your immune system to do its job properly, it has to be able to distinguish between the good guys (the cells, tissues, and organs that make up your body) and the bad guys (any foreign invader, such as a virus or bacteria that doesn’t share your genes). And get this: The immune system is so powerful that it would reject a pregnant woman’s developing fetus (which shares only some of her genes) if the hormones of pregnancy didn’t suppress her immune system.

December 9, 2012

Complementary medicine: A holistic approach

A special feature of many complementary therapies is their holistic approach. Rather than focusing solely on your ailment, the practitioner is likely to be interested in your overall health and will spend time with you, asking about your diet and lifestyle, attempting to build up a picture of how one aspect of your health impacts on another.

This approach is in line with the World Health Organization’s definition of health as a ‘complete state of physical, mental, and social wellbeing’ and not simply the absence of disease. Because of this holistic focus, people with the same ailment may be treated quite differently according to their individual make-up or needs.

For example, two asthma sufferers may have similar symptoms and yet be given different types of herbs, homeopathic remedies, or acupuncture treatments by the same practitioner according to the diagnosis of their overall state of health and the perceived underlying cause of their condition. The aim of this holistic approach is often the restoration of homeostasis or body balance, which is believed to facilitate the body’s own self-healing mechanisms.

Being Healthy

Even if you get the best therapist and therapy in the world, your health and healing still rest to some extent in your own hands. Help yourself by practicing the following:

·         Start each day in a positive frame of mind.

·         Eat healthily and sensibly, with lots of fresh vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts, seeds, and other healthy proteins, and avoid junk foods, saturated fats, and excess sugars and salt.

·        Drink plenty of fresh water; eight glasses sipped during the course of the day is a good amount to aim for.

·  Get regular exercise of both the vigorous (aerobic) and gentle, stretching (such as yoga, pilates, and t’ai chi) varieties. Two to three sessions a week of at least 20 minutes – enough to build up a bit of a sweat – is a good goal.

·       B-r-e-a-t-h-e well! Lots of people simply stop breathing when they are concentrating, or they breathe very shallowly. Focus on your breath at regular intervals during the day and ensure even, free breaths.

·    Limit your vices! Moderate alcohol intake and stop or at least cut down on the cigarettes.

·         De-stress. Practise stress management and aim for a good work-rest-play life balance with time for socialising, creativity, and enjoyment.

·         Get plenty of good quality sleep.

·         End each day with gratitude for everything in your life.